Automated testing makes the whole testing process easy and fast. Record and Replay testing make that process easier and quicker.
Record and Replay, otherwise known as codeless automation, is a way to run tests without programming knowledge.
Record and replay testing has been around for a while. People are now becoming more familiar with it, even though the journey has been quite an experience.
In this blog, I’ll be talking about what Record and Replay testing is and why it developed a bad reputation.
What is Record and Replay Testing?
Record and replay testing is an automated testing method. The tool records the user's actions, then it replays them.
These tools let the tester hit record and manually go through the real-user actions of a pre-scripted test case. When the tester is done, the tool will have created a script that can automatically run those same actions.
Record and Replay is a lightweight solution for test automation. Record and Replay is a lightweight solution for test automation. The value is particularly important for teams who are in the process of shifting from mostly manual testing to incorporating some automation. This helps to accelerate testing and enables its integration at an earlier stage in the software development process.
Few ways Record and Replay are good for:
Individuals with little or no programming knowledge
Filling in the gaps of Selenium tests and transitioning from mostly manual testing
Lightweight automation for smaller tests
Non-technical roles doing one-off tests
Teams where members outside of QA take part in some testing
Why Did Record and Replay Testing Get a Bad Reputation?
The issue is that application code, especially UI code, can change frequently. In that situation, record and replay tests break often, negating any time savings over just going with manual testing.
If your developers don't frequently make changes, relying solely on the record and replay method for test automation can lead to a buildup of fragile scripts. These scripts contain redundant lines of code, images, and objects that are repeated every time they are executed. This duplication not only adds unnecessary code but also makes it more difficult to identify and fix issues in failing scripts. As a result, the process of debugging becomes more challenging.
To explain further, when using the record and replay method, the tool not only captures the actions you perform during testing but also collects additional information that may not be directly related to the test steps. This can create confusion when trying to differentiate between the actual code that represents the test steps and the extra data collected by the tool.
When this happens, it becomes harder to maintain and manage the test scripts. The scripts become delicate, meaning they are sensitive to even minor changes in the application being tested. This sensitivity can cause the scripts to break or fail when there are updates or modifications to the application.
Furthermore, the inclusion of redundant elements in the scripts adds unnecessary complexity. It increases the amount of code that needs to be maintained and reviewed, making the scripts harder to understand and work with. Additionally, the presence of redundant lines of code, images, and objects can make it more time-consuming to identify the root cause of issues when a script fails.
Overall, relying solely on the record and replay method without regularly updating and optimizing the test scripts can lead to a buildup of delicate and redundant code. This not only makes the debugging process more challenging but also hampers the overall maintainability and efficiency of the test automation framework.
Some more issues with record and replay testing:
1. Very high maintenance cost
These tools often store procedural steps or create procedural code. Procedural tests are a problem because even minor changes can require that all your tests need to be updated or rerecorded. This largely defeats the purpose of having automation in the first place. In many cases, the cost of maintenance outweighs any realized value.
2. Limited test coverage
The main thing to understand about record & replay tools is that they typically follow the exact steps you recorded, no more, no less. That means these tests typically do little more than basic navigation testing. Navigation testing is important, but navigation testing alone is pretty low-value automation. You are also typically limited to just testing against the user interface.
3. Poor understanding of the tools
Most testers have an incomplete understating of what exactly these tools are doing. This can lead to huge gaps in your test coverage. I have found the testers that typically use these tools assume the tools are doing things, like verifying a page loaded, that they are not doing.
4. Poor integration
These tools by and large don’t integrate well with your SDLC process. They typically have their own interface and test runners. This often means you need to manually kick off tests. This can also mean tests need exclusive control over the machine they are running on, which means the tester running the tests doesn’t do much to do while the tests are running. Once you do have test results they are often in a flat file or “fancy” report format that follows a custom format for that specific tool. These custom formats make uploading the results to your test management or build tool challenging.
So what are they good for?
Record and replay tools are good for getting one’s feet wet in test automation, but the files created are extremely large, they execute slowly, and get slower over time, if they work at all
says Hector Diaz de Leon, a test automation expert and development engineer. We can say that it’s not something you should be using for tests you expect to last for the long haul.
That was all the ups and downs of Record and Replay Testing summed up in one article!
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— by Nishant Mishra